There was not much change when it came to the scene outside the banks in major Indian cities as huge crowds in long queues continued to wait to exchange or deposit their old 500 and 1000 rupee notes. The cash machines opened on Friday (11 November) after a two-day shutdown, but they ran out of currency notes quickly leaving scores of people stranded without money.

The Indian financial sector has been experiencing some tremors after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprise move announced the demonetisation of the highest-valued currency notes - Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 - on Tuesday (8 November). Since then panic has begun to grip several parts of the country as the two major denominations jointly accounts for more than 86% of the circulation in value.

While the banks across the country were closed for public operations for a day, the automated teller machines (ATMs) remained shut for two consecutive days allowing the banking staff to fill up the money. Yet, when they opened on Friday a majority of them were either out of service or ran out of cash immediately.

According to the industry body Federation of India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), while there are over 200,000 cash machines in India, only 40,000 people are employed by the cash logistics industry.

"You have to understand that there are two lakh (200,000) ATMs (of all banks) in the country but there are only three to four vendors in the country," said Arundhati Bhattacharya, chairman of State Bank of India which is the country's largest lender by assets.

The bank has said that it could take 10 days for ATM services to settle down to normal.

While many cash machines have not been re-calibrated to spew the newly introduced Rs 2,000 notes, the lower denominations like Rs 100 and Rs 50 are also short in supply.

"The bank isn't well equipped so there is a chaos here. It took us 1.5 hours to do a transaction completely different from the crowd but still we are taking as much time as them," local daily Hindu quoted a customer as saying.

Financial institutions, the central bank, and the government have been appealing for calm and have reassured that the situation would return to normalcy in the coming days.

The Reserve Bank of India has urged people to be "patient" and said, "There is enough cash available with banks and all arrangements have been made to distribute the currency notes all over the country."

India currency in ATMs
People queue outside a bank to exchange and deposit their old high denomination banknotes in the northern city of Kanpur, India Adnan Abidi/Reuters